Japan Looks to Address Bullying, Suicides at Schools

A growing number of suicides by students in Japan and inadequate attempts by schools to address the issue have prompted the drafting of new legislation to help teachers spot and prevent bullying in schools.

The education ministry is also considering setting up permanent investigation teams throughout the nation to look into suicide cases involving school children. A common theme in the legislation and ministry committee debates is the need for more independent experts apart from the school to be involved in identifying the causes of bullying and suicides and measures needed to prevent them.

The issue has drawn renewed national attention following a 2011 case in the western city of Otsu in which a 13-year-old boy killed himself after being repeatedly bullied by three classmates. The Otsu Board of Education was criticized for turning a blind eye to the boy’s plight and conducting a careless investigation after the fact. For months the board even denied that bullying was linked to the boy’s death. In February, Otsu city officials formally admitted that bullying contributed to the suicide, according to local media reports.

Suicides among students up to high school age increased by nearly 30% in 2011 from the previous year, according to the latest data available from the education ministry.

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Alleged Bully Teacher Removed at East, Parents Say More to be Done

A teacher at Cherry Hill East who allegedly bullied her freshman English students is out of the classroom, replaced by a long-term sub, but parents who first brought the concerns to school administrators say the situation still isn’t completely resolved.

Kimberly Real, who parents say insulted her freshman students and used discriminatory and insensitive language in the classroom, was yanked about three weeks ago, more than a month after a group of parents brought their concerns before the school board.

Though it’s a step in the right direction, more remains before they consider the situation closed, they said.

“I think it’s a win, absolutely,” Susan Levy Warner said. “Our children are not being subjected to the harassment and bullying any longer…but it’s not over—it’s not been completely resolved.”

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Student sues two school districts for allegedly failing to stop bullying

A teenager who was allegedly subjected to years of bullying is now suing the Hunterdon Central Board of Education and Flemington-Raritan Board of Education.

The suit, filed in late February in Superior Court in Flemington by attorney Brian Cige, claims the now-teenager was bullied not only by other children but by some school employees as well, from fourth grade onward.

The boy and his parents — as well as the students who did the bullying — are identified only by initials in the suit, which makes the following claims:

The bullying started in the fourth grade and continued into high school.

The years of alleged taunting, name calling and derogatory comments took its toll — as the young man eventually developed serious and debilitating health issues. He missed significant periods of school for hospitalization, according to the suit. Although the direct bullying has subsided, the suit claims the high school district is now doing very little to accommodate his disability.

The suit details many incidents over an eight-year period starting in grade school in the Flemington-Raritan district and continuing into high school at Hunterdon Central.

The reasons for the boy being targeted changed over the years. He was first picked on because of his physique, then later because of his hair, and then his perceived sexual orientation. He was subject to name calling, “pantsing” (having his pants pulled down to expose his underwear), being poked and having kick balls hurled at him until he was doubled over in pain, the suit said. Later, the boy was subjected to cyber bullying via Facebook, the suit said.

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Pasco schools consider tough bullying, bias policies after Zephyrhills teen’s suicide attempt

Zachary Gray’s suicide attempt

An investigation into a 2011 bullying case at Zephyrhills High School has led the Pasco County school district to consider tougher policies on discrimination and sex-based harassment.

The School Board on Tuesday will decide whether to adopt the proposals as an agreement to end an inquiry by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. The federal review came after a complaint by the family of Zachary Gray, a student who attempted to commit suicide in May 2011 after alleged teasing, taunting and harassment by other students at Zephyrhills High.

Gray, then 17, did not succeed in hanging himself, but he suffered incapacitating injuries from the attempt. He remains unable to walk and talk, and in full-time medical care.

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